I have cancer.
I had a mammogram fifteen days ago. My first. They found a mass. They had me come back three days later for another mammogram and an ultrasound. The mass was spiculated. Oval. About a centimeter.
They recommended a biopsy. That happened last Thursday. I watched as the doctor, guided by ultrasound, found the mass and vacuumed bits of my body to be spliced into slides to be viewed up close and personal.
Watching is not normal, I learned. The doctor, the nurse, and the technician, who’d been there nineteen years, told me I was the first person in any of their experiences that watched. “I’m a writer,” I said.
After the procedure I had another mammogram. My third in ten days. One is bad enough. Three? Fortunately, the third time my breast was numb.
Then I waited. Because the biopsy was done on a Thursday, I had to wait over the weekend. Three to five business days, they said. On Sunday we went camping. Monday, I swung in a hammock and stared at the trees. Jim sat next to me. When the hammock slowed, he’d nudge it. Like I was in a bassinet and I needed the constant motion to keep me from waking up screaming.
Yesterday morning I left a message for Dr. S. “Any news?” I wondered. She called me back. I’d already received the news in my chart, but I hadn’t checked email, so I didn’t know.
It’s tiny, they think. Grade 1. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Estrogen and Progesterone receptive. Don’t quote me, because I may not be getting it right and I’m not consulting my chart right now.
Do I sound clinical? I think I do. I don’t want to. I don’t mean to. I don’t know how to deal with this.
I’m fifty. I just turned fifty in May. First ever mammogram and BAM. Cancer. That’s what it’s for, right?
Excuse me while I take a moment to scream.
I am scared. I am writing in my writerly voice in my detached reporter telling a story voice because I don’t know how to deal with this otherwise. Mom and dad have a go-bag packed and COVID be damned I need my mommy and my daddy. They’re behaving and will drive straight through when I give the word and it could be any day because seriously 2020 can you just STOP.
Next week is a surgery consult; we’re going to schedule a time to carve out more of this interloper and see how much of a bad boy he really is. It’s followed the next day by a visit with My Oncologist.
I am thankful. I am grateful. I am more scared than I’ve ever been in my entire life, but I had a mammogram at the exact time I needed to have one. Now I know. Now I can do something.
There is so much going on right now it feels a bit selfish to post my personal woe. And I KNOW I’m going to be alright (right?).
Thank you for reading. Thanks for caring.